How to do a DIY Manicure at Home, the Non-Toxic Way

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Give yourself a salon-quality, DIY manicure at home using natural and non-toxic ingredients.

I have a confession: I never really liked going to a salon to get my nails done.

And I ALWAYS smear the freshly painted fingers as soon as I leave the salon, no matter how long I sit with my hands under the little light.

So I stopped going and started doing my nails at home.

Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at giving myself a salon-quality manicure at home. A few years back I got really into painting my nails, and even started doing nail art and nail stamping.

It was a fun little hobby that I did after the kids where in bed, but admittedly it used some pretty toxic supplies (hello nail polish and polish remover).

I tested out lots of ‘natural’ polish and polish remover brands, as well as worked on how to make my nails and cuticles look nice without too much effort.

I can safely say that I’ve perfected the DIY natural manicure, and even elevated it to salon quality from the comfort of your home.


The truth about nail polish is this: if you want it to work, it will not be completely non-toxic. It will be LESS toxic than traditional polishes and still have an odor.

I’ve tried TONS of nail polish brands that claim to be non-toxic, including the water based polishes that offer the cleanest ingredient lists. But they come off almost immediately. They are best for kids, who can’t keep polish on their fingers anyway.

My favorite low-toxin polish brand is Zoya. It is salon quality and free of the top 10 chemicals common in typical polish. Their formula is amazing – if you’re into doing your own nails you will love this polish because it’s SO easy to work with.

Another less toxic brand that works well is Ella+Mila.

Both of these brands have top coats and base coats in addition to a selection of colors.

I consider nail polish an area where I sometimes compromise my desire for chemical free products. I don’t always wear it, but sometimes I just want my nails to be pretty, ya know?

If what you’re looking for is a completely natural at-home manicure, then I’ve got you covered! Stop at step 5 and your nails will still look healthy and GORG without the polish.


All of the recipes here use lemon, lavender and rosemary. These 3 herbs (or essential oils) are great for nail care – they strengthen nails, help with discoloration, soften cuticles and all smell amazing.

 It will basically be like you’re having a spa treatment where everything is synergistic and completely natural. WINNING.

Here are the 8 steps to a completely natural, DIY manicure from the comfort of your own home.


Take off any old polish with the least toxic nail polish remover you can find (no acetone!). I like either Karma Naturals or Mineral Fusion (less natural but better than acetone). These both require a little extra scrubbing (especially for glitter polish) but are not as chemical heavy as a traditional polish remover.


Next, it’s time to soak those fingers and get everything nice and soft. Prepare an herbal manicure soak recipe to strengthen your nails and help soften your cuticles.

herbal nail soak
Herbal DIY Nail Soak Recipe for Healthy, Strong Nails

For this recipe, you’ll need: hot water, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon lavender buds, ½ teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary leaves and 4 drops of vitamin E oil (optional).

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl or dish that is large enough for both of your hands to be mostly submerged.
  • Let herby water steep for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough for your hands (but still warm)
  • Soak in warm water for at least 5 minutes (longer if you have it).
  • Turn on an audio book or your favorite podcast and relaaaaxxxxx.
  • Keep a towel close by to wipe hands once your manicure soak is complete.


After you’ve soaked your hands, it’s time to exfoliate any dead or dull skin. Skin is nice and supple after an herbal soak, so it’s the perfect time to exfoliate.

DIY sugar scrub for hands with lavender and lemon
The Best DIY Hand Scrub for Soft, Moisturized Skin

You can even do this homemade hand scrub right over the bowl you used for the nail soak to make life easy.

Gently scrub your hands for a few minutes, rubbing all of the oils into your skin. Rinse clean with warm water and pat dry.


Next it’s time to moisturize and care for your cuticles. I love to use a homemade cuticle oil for this, and it works so well my cuticles don’t need much else. I prefer not to push or cut my cuticles, and find if I use this cuticle oil regularly, I don’t need to.

DIY Cuticle Oil Recipe with Essential Oils | Strengthens Nails

Feel free to rub this oil on the rest of your hands too if they need extra nourishment; it’s a great moisturizer.

This cuticle oil recipe is nourishing and helps to strengthen nails, so you can add this to your nightly routine and your nails will look amazing.


It’s time to clean up those nails with a quick trim, shaping and buffing.

Buffing your nails is a great way to keep them looking healthy and shiny. It removed excess oil buildup and increase circulation, making nails look naturally shiny.

So if you’re going for a completely natural manicure with no polish, buffing is a crucial step to that perfect manicured look.

I don’t do a lot of shaping to my nails because I like their natural shape. But this is a great tutorial on how to shape your nails:

If you’re going for a polish-free, natural manicure, then you are done!

But if you’d like to apply some color, you have just a few more steps.


Always start with a basecoat – it protects your nails from discoloration and damage from nail polish. It also helps your polish to stay on longer so your hard work isn’t chipping away by tomorrow.


Paint your nails with a non-toxic polish that actually lasts.

My favorite brands are Zoya and Ella+Mila.

If painting your own nails is not your forte, check out this quick tutorial…this technique makes it SO much easier.


Your final step is a top coat, which adds an extra layer of shine, smooths things out and protects polish from chips.

Again I love the Zoya topcoat, and I haven’t tried this quick dry top coat yet, but I do love anything that dries fast (with less toxins too, of course).

I’ve found when I use a basecoat, high quality polish and a top coat, my DIY manicure lasts at least a week.

Zoya Dory


To recap your steps for your at-home manicure:

  1. Remove old polish with a less-toxic remover like this one
  2. Do an herbal nail soak
  3. Exfoliate and moisturize hands with a homemade hand scrub
  4. Moisturize cuticles and strengthen nails with cuticle oil
  5. Trim, shape and buff those nails
  6. Apply a basecoat
  7. Use a low-toxin nail polish
  8. Apply a top coat

Sit back and admire your beautiful, natural nails!

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